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Dickson beyond the latest ACTPLA approval

By Paul Costigan - 1 July 2016 14

Dickson-nr-library-antill

What does it take for the ACT Government to have vision for developments in and around my own suburb of Dickson?  I’ll get back to the question.

On Thursday the planning authority (ACTPLA) announced that it had approved the latest version of the application for the new supermarket complex. Sadly from the information made available, it seems that there has been a bit of tinkering but the reality is that not much has changed (the image above is what we saw in March this year).

Residents had forecasted such a decision. It was well known that there was no way that the developers, having failed badly the first time around in May 2015, could politically be sent back to start all over again.  That first design was a monster. Locals saw it as being inappropriate for the site.

The current spokesperson for ACTPLA ensured that there was a press release ahead of the announcement so that he could spin out some of the reasons for his decision. He concentrated on justifying things by coming up with the very tired lines such as – there is such a wide range of views and aspirations – What we’ve tried to do is find the very best balanced outcome for the community.

OMG – not those words again – how many times in one’s lifetime should anyone hear such spin from a planning bureaucrat?

Will we ever see that day when the government would be able to say: The government has worked successfully and openly with the developers and the residents and is proud to announce an architectural and environmental solution that will set an enviable high design standard for all the other new developments in this very popular suburban area.

They definitely could not say that about the convoluted and obscure processes by which this whole thing has come about.

To make matters worse for the future, they have even dared to base part of their decision on a various dubious logic – see image below – text from ACTPLA’s approval notice.

ACTPLA03

That is, the approval for this building for which we have no image, is apparently not dissimilar to other approvals in the area which are yet to be built and therefore we have no idea what they are talking about. How about that for beautiful planning logic?

Meanwhile we had also been told that the trees in the Dickson parklands are now not to be sacrificed for the temporary parking. That’s a good result.

However this decision itself presents another piece of wonderful planning logic.

The whole plan was based on converting the main carpark as the site for the new supermarkets. For this to happen the LDA had to find some temporary parking to at least compensate a little for the huge loss of convenience. Mysteriously, the government has now announced there is in fact enough parking in and around Dickson even with the loss of the enormous space next to Woolworths.

Parking-P1160996

I suggest that shoppers may have a different view on this – especially during peak times.

I would be surprised if Woolworths or the owners of that building agree with this most recent planning approval. For at least two years this supermarket will not have any parking outside its front door. Why? That site is now to be used for the construction of a building for two of its direct competitors.

Surely they will challenge this decision or maybe even close up and move on as they did in Manuka about a decade ago when something similar happened.

But surely there can be something positive here.

We need our shopping centre to survive the coming onslaught of construction, noise and lack of amenity.

We would hope that the government could work with the locals to ensure that the other parts of the shopping precinct remain attractive to shoppers, to families and to those who love socialise over cups of coffee and a snack.

For that we need an open discussion with the planning minister. But so far he continues to avoid contact with the local residents. He has refused to come to a meeting of the residents. This is a shame.

Maybe the local member, Andrew Barr, who lives in Dickson, could find the time to speak to residents about how the government could ensure the viability of the centre over the next years of construction.

This is an election year. We need a vision, not spin. Talk to us.

FYI: The Dickson Residents are inviting the community to join us on Thursday 21 July at Daramalan. If you are coming – then send questions for the night to dicksonia2602@gmail.com

What’s Your opinion?


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14 Responses to
Dickson beyond the latest ACTPLA approval
KentFitch 6:17 pm 05 Jul 16

Deref said :

Deref said :

ddd444 said :

Why do you need parking with lightrail.

You cannot take trolleys onto the tram and a weekly shop generally requires a boot space in a car with which to get it home. Not everyone lives alone and gets by on a loaf of bread, carton of milk and stick of salami. Why else are shopping centre car parks full every Saturday and Sunday?

I’m sure you can get a trolley onto the tram. Its mostly standing space anyway.

Maybe not a supermarket trolley – they’d want it back! But if you’re only doing a little-family shop, you could push you own from home to bus-stop, carry it on the bus to the tram-stop, push it onto the tram, off again at Dickson, push it 650m from the Dickson tram-stop on Northbourne to the supermarkets, and then do it all in reverse to get your shopping home. I hope the paths are all shopping-trolley-wheel-friendly. Getting it off and on the bus might be hard (especially when full!), but I’m sure the integrated transport plan has some fairy-dust magic to help.

gooterz 4:16 pm 05 Jul 16

Deref said :

ddd444 said :

Why do you need parking with lightrail.

You cannot take trolleys onto the tram and a weekly shop generally requires a boot space in a car with which to get it home. Not everyone lives alone and gets by on a loaf of bread, carton of milk and stick of salami. Why else are shopping centre car parks full every Saturday and Sunday?

I’m sure you can get a trolley onto the tram. Its mostly standing space anyway.

wildturkeycanoe 2:49 pm 05 Jul 16

ddd444 said :

Why do you need parking with lightrail.

You cannot take trolleys onto the tram and a weekly shop generally requires a boot space in a car with which to get it home. Not everyone lives alone and gets by on a loaf of bread, carton of milk and stick of salami. Why else are shopping centre car parks full every Saturday and Sunday?

madelini 11:12 am 05 Jul 16

ddd444 said :

Why do you need parking with lightrail.

Not everyone who will potentially use the light rail will live within walking distance – for example, those in North Watson, Hackett or Kaleen will be able to drive. Much like the park and ride facilities they already have for busses.

gooterz 9:53 am 05 Jul 16

Why do you need parking with lightrail.

wildturkeycanoe 6:47 am 05 Jul 16

Fluffy said :

Come to think of it, its not clear whether there is even a master plan for the Dickson precinct that’s been thought through.

This is not part of the Dickson Master Plan but rather the Transport for Canberra Master Plan. Medium to high density housing is what the tram needs to make it viable, so if Dickson residents support the tram, they must also support multi-storey buildings in their neighborhood to house all the future users of the tram. This isn’t progress just for progress’ sake but part of the big picture. If they didn’t want their little village to grow into a mini city then they should have fought against the light rail project too, because you cannot have one without the other.
Nimbyism is one thing and I would call the author part of this group only because they are basing their argument on the lack of consultation, a dislike of the appearance of the project and it exceeding their scope in terms of height and materials.
This is different to opposing something like the Kippax Master Plan, where the aims of the project simply do not make sense. For example, Kippax is to be redesigned to encourage more outdoor dining, but the plan shows high-rise buildings blocking sunlight from shining on the new alfresco areas. This would create a cold, dark, “wind tunnel” effect much like the barren pavements of Gareema Place. It talks of making the place more inviting by creating a green space for children, whilst building on top of the existing playground. It talks of improving access by closing roads and making walking and cycling easier, for an expanding population that consists of nearby elderly residents, children and families that live up to 3.5 km away. There are no plans to improve vehicular access to the area via the main roads and no plans to improve public transport to cater for the increased, concentrated population both at the center and in the newest suburbs to the west. These contradictions and planning failures have genuine reason to be opposed, but the Dickson redevelopment has more pros than cons. The residents need to wake up and realize that they live in a traffic corridor that is growing to suit the needs of not only the local residents, but the 15,000 or so who will be apparently traveling past on the new railway.

oh_ 8:18 am 04 Jul 16

I’m not convinced by apartments on that spot. A new supermarket/s, sure, and apartments elsewhere around the periphery of Dickson precinct (ie Challis St, and maybe moderately behind the pool) to provide some density and street life, sure, but an ugly tower right above the shops?…no thanks. There should be a height limit that nothing goes more than 2-3 stories, plus laneways, in keeping with the adjacent commercial area. Its not clear what the traffic arrangements will be and whether that will improve. Come to think of it, its not clear whether there is even a master plan for the Dickson precinct that’s been thought through.

rommeldog56 7:38 am 04 Jul 16

There u go Paul, you have a “dislike” of change, are a Nimby and a “crusty old Ludite”. Those who dare to oppose or to suggest anything different to what the ACT Gov’t says, does or plans………

Welcome to the new Canberra !!!

creative_canberran 12:32 am 04 Jul 16

dungfungus said :

I wonder, how much of the disapproval of the current plan is a dislike of change? People as a collective tend to dislike change, especially when it is thrust upon them.

That’s exactly what it’s about. Heard Paul on the news talking and he sounded like a crusty old ludite. ‘I don’t want new tall buildings waaahhhhh’

Dickson is a planning failure. But like a comfy old chair with food of decades past crushed deep into the fabric and the recliner mechanism long since broken, its old owner wants to hang on to it.

chewy14 7:52 pm 01 Jul 16

Kim Huynh said :

dungfungus said :

I wonder, how much of the disapproval of the current plan is a dislike of change? People as a collective tend to dislike change, especially when it is thrust upon them.

Dickson in its current state is not functional. There are dozens of complaints about the Woolworths (including on this website). The proposal looks to work towards offering more variety in a central location that is badly needed – aside from the City, the inner north is not well-serviced by suburban centres given the sheer population in the area. Three supermarkets! Just think! Yes, it’s going to be a pain for the two years that they are working on the new development, but it’s never easy for all of the people when works of this scale are being completed. It’s like complaining about roadworks, but then enjoying the finished product.

Oh – here we go again. the “you just oppose change argument”. Did u not read what the article says ?
Its not about change or development. Its not even as much about impact on existing parking/shops for a year or 2. Its about the planning process, listening to the community and whats being built. Sheezzzz……

Which is all about a dislike of change. The community has been repeatedly consulted and a compromise decision reached.

The developers are out to make money and sell apartments, the government is out to grow the city according to its land release strategies within the legislated planning process, the residents represented by the author are out to have other people pay to increase their amenity whilst limiting change in the area.

Trying to find a middle ground is difficult and these constant articles are just whinges about the fact that these areas and suburbs will change over time.

If the author is truly against the planning process then he should be lobbying for legislative change or running for election, rather than constantly whinging about individual developments that he dislikes. It reeks of NIMBYISM.

madelini 4:26 pm 01 Jul 16

Kim Huynh said :

dungfungus said :

I wonder, how much of the disapproval of the current plan is a dislike of change? People as a collective tend to dislike change, especially when it is thrust upon them.

Dickson in its current state is not functional. There are dozens of complaints about the Woolworths (including on this website). The proposal looks to work towards offering more variety in a central location that is badly needed – aside from the City, the inner north is not well-serviced by suburban centres given the sheer population in the area. Three supermarkets! Just think! Yes, it’s going to be a pain for the two years that they are working on the new development, but it’s never easy for all of the people when works of this scale are being completed. It’s like complaining about roadworks, but then enjoying the finished product.

Oh – here we go again. the “you just oppose change argument”. Did u not read what the article says ?
Its not about change or development. Its not even as much about impact on existing parking/shops for a year or 2. Its about the planning process, listening to the community and whats being built. Sheezzzz……

I did read the article, and I have read all of Paul’s preceding articles on this topic, and I am wondering if the developers ever stood a chance of proposing something that wouldn’t meet with outright opposition. If the Resident’s Group themselves had put forward a proposal, it would have been met with opposition from another group. My point is that is seems as though the “community” was always going to complain because this change is being thrust upon them, rather than orchestrated by them.

bringontheevidence 3:32 pm 01 Jul 16

I really don’t see what the big stink is about this building. Yes it’s not the most attractive thing ever proposed (far from it) but it’s still lightyears better than the horrible windowless, sprawling sheds surrounded by carparks that house most supermarkets. It also contains 140 relatively affordable apartments and brings badly needed additional shopping options into the inner north.

While I understand that many existing residents might not want anything to change in their suburb, ultimately Dickson isn’t an island where the residents have ultimate say on what is and isn’t built. Dickson is one small part of a much larger city, and the needs of all of Canberra’s residents have to be met by the Government. Part of the way that the Government meets the needs of all Canberrans is to ensure that there is a good supply of new affordable housing in existing areas, and that these new residents have access to sufficient services.

If new apartments weren’t being built in places like Dickson, then Canberra’s growing population* would need to be housed in increasingly distant sprawl suburbs, with the associated environmental and transport costs that come with that type of development.

I also know that residents say things like ‘it’s not the fact that they are apartments, its the poor design/poor materials/ etc etc that we have a problem with. Well, you could go down the path of only approving high quality, premium developments but that would simply price most developments out of the market, leading to all sorts of other problems.

*(which is mostly through natural increase, so don’t bring out the ‘sustainable population’ rubbish unless you want to introduce a one child policy)

rommeldog56 1:11 pm 01 Jul 16

dungfungus said :

I wonder, how much of the disapproval of the current plan is a dislike of change? People as a collective tend to dislike change, especially when it is thrust upon them.

Dickson in its current state is not functional. There are dozens of complaints about the Woolworths (including on this website). The proposal looks to work towards offering more variety in a central location that is badly needed – aside from the City, the inner north is not well-serviced by suburban centres given the sheer population in the area. Three supermarkets! Just think! Yes, it’s going to be a pain for the two years that they are working on the new development, but it’s never easy for all of the people when works of this scale are being completed. It’s like complaining about roadworks, but then enjoying the finished product.

Oh – here we go again. the “you just oppose change argument”. Did u not read what the article says ?
Its not about change or development. Its not even as much about impact on existing parking/shops for a year or 2. Its about the planning process, listening to the community and whats being built. Sheezzzz……

madelini 11:37 am 01 Jul 16

I wonder, how much of the disapproval of the current plan is a dislike of change? People as a collective tend to dislike change, especially when it is thrust upon them.

Dickson in its current state is not functional. There are dozens of complaints about the Woolworths (including on this website). The proposal looks to work towards offering more variety in a central location that is badly needed – aside from the City, the inner north is not well-serviced by suburban centres given the sheer population in the area. Three supermarkets! Just think! Yes, it’s going to be a pain for the two years that they are working on the new development, but it’s never easy for all of the people when works of this scale are being completed. It’s like complaining about roadworks, but then enjoying the finished product.

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